Nightly News | February 03, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: As you may know, we're featuring some extraordinary Americans in our Black History Month series here this week, a project we're conducting with our partner Web site thegrio.com, which has put together a list of 100 Remarkable People . Tonight the story of a woman who had an idea for going green long before it was fashionable or even called that. Her work is all the more notable considering where she's doing it: in the single poorest congressional district in the United States . Her story from our chief environmental affairs correspondent Ann Thompson .
Ms. MAJORA CARTER: People need to start thinking more about that.
ANN THOMPSON reporting: Majora Carter is a force of nature...
Ms. CARTER: There's enough space. You had to reach across different types...
THOMPSON: ...for people whose access to nature is all too often polluted or paved over.
Ms. CARTER: Environmental justice is a principle that no community should have to bear the brunt of. Lots of environmental burdens and not enjoy some environmental benefits.
THOMPSON: Carter says the crusade to green America 's gritty inner cities is the 21st century 's civil rights movement, and in it she's a multi-media activist...
THOMPSON: ...taking her message from coast to coast.
Ms. CARTER: You know, people will look at me and go, `But you're not white and you're not male, and you're not old.' I'm like, `No, I'm not.' But like everybody else on the planet, I'm a part of this environment and I want to make sure that we're doing some great things that can be supportive of everybody in it.
THOMPSON: It began by accident. Dragged to the Bronx River by her dog, she saw promise in an industrial wasteland . When you said, `I see a park here,' did people think you were crazy?
Ms. CARTER: Yes, in a word. They did.
THOMPSON: She got a grant, organized the community, and together, they built a park, the first step in what she hopes will be an 11-mile greenway. What difference has this park made?
Ms. CARTER: Oh, the difference the park made is that it's shown people that we can see ourselves in a different way.
THOMPSON: Carter 's vision has spread to nearby streets.
Ms. EVA SANJURJO (South Bronx Resident): She has brought a lot of respect into our community. And I love her for that. I really do.
THOMPSON: And Carter 's brought green jobs and a training program. Wayne Lee is a graduate and now an instructor.
Mr. WAYNE LEE: I heard about this woman who founded this amazing organization and I was just like, you know, `How can I be a part of that?'
THOMPSON: The South Bronx , where Carter grew up and got married, is the springboard for her national consulting firm . I read 70,000 vacant lots in Detroit ?
Ms. CARTER: Yeah, I understand like 50 square miles and growing.
THOMPSON: But in the barren lots Carter sees potential for bounty. She's working to create a national brand of locally grown urban produce.
Ms. CARTER: The better your food is, the better quality is, the healthier you're going to be and the healthier every thing around you is going to be.
THOMPSON: Ideas that can sprout fresh food, jobs and hope.
Ms. CARTER: What we're asking folks to do is to think big , beyond what they ever thought they could possibly do, and understand that they've always had the power to do it.
THOMPSON: Majora Carter , a big thinker, tapping the most sustainable power of all, the human spirit . Ann Thompson , NBC News , New York .